dslreports logo
site
spacer

spacer
 
   
spc
story category
How to Beat AT&T in Court For Throttling 'Unlimited' Service
User Who Won $850 Highlights His Steps, Preps for Appeal
by Karl Bode 08:18AM Wednesday Mar 07 2012
AT&T may have modified their throttling practices, but they still face a legal threat from users angry about the company's definition of "unlimited." The other day we noted how an AT&T customer successfully sued AT&T for $850, after AT&T clearly limited their supposedly "unlimited" wireless data service. Matt Spaccarelli filed the court case in mid-February and went to court with AT&T last Friday. He has since launched a website that outlines precisely what forms he filled out in order to win his case, while taking the opportunity to appeal for donations in order to fight a likely appeal by AT&T. Says Spaccarelli:
quote:
I'm not a lawyer and I've never done something like this before. I did my own research and took my own time to put together this case against AT &T. I'd like to share my experience with all of you. I'm in the process of putting together this page to house all of the paperwork I've collected so that others may benefit from my experience. I apologize that the web site is a little rough but we just put this up a few days ago and we are working on it. An appeal from AT&T is most likely from my ruling...
Attorney Bradley Sniderman has also listed his tips on how to fight AT&T if you're annoyed with their throttling practices -- and it's certainly no easy feat. AT&T continues to note that their contracts have always given them the right to do pretty much anything, but it appears we'll get more than a few chances to see how this holds up in court.

view:
topics flat nest 

bruce

@charter.com

judge judy

to bad this wasnt on judge judy

FFH5
Premium
join:2002-03-03
Tavistock NJ
kudos:5

Shows small claims court info; not deal with AT&T appeal

In any case, it doesn't show anything about how he will go about dealing with an AT&T appeal of his small claims court win.

Looks less like a site to help you win in court than it does as a sales pitch for a poker chip customizer kit.

A better strategy - force AT&T to go to arbitration. You have a better chance there(no matter how small) than you do in winning against AT&T when they appeal a small claims court loss.
--
The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, I'm from the government and I'm here to help.
»www.politico.com/2012-election/


ptrowski
Got Helix?
Premium
join:2005-03-14
Putnam, CT
kudos:4

2 recommendations

Re: Shows small claims court info; not deal with AT&T appeal

Force them into arbitration? Are you crazy?

cdru
Go Colts
Premium,MVM
join:2003-05-14
Fort Wayne, IN
kudos:7

1 recommendation

said by FFH5:

Looks less like a site to help you win in court than it does as a sales pitch for a poker chip customizer kit.

Good grief. He has two banners, one of which isn't all that big at the top. And they are from a friend's business that get gets a cut of each sale to help with his defense fund (or at least so he says). So he's not a web designer creating a fancy webpage. At least it loads fast so you don't go over your wireless cap.
kaila

join:2000-10-11
Lincolnshire, IL
Let them appeal and spend a dollar to defend a nickel. Which is likely somewhere near a lifetime of revenue of an average customer.
--
Jeff Howe
Jeff's Blog - »www.ostjournal.net
openbox9
Premium
join:2004-01-26
Germany
kudos:2

Re: Shows small claims court info; not deal with AT&T appeal

AT&T is paying its legal team anyway, might as well employ the lawyers to establish a precedent.

vpoko
Premium
join:2003-07-03
Boston, MA

Re: Shows small claims court info; not deal with AT&T appeal

There's no precedent, an appeal would usually be a trial de novo in front of a low-level trial court (in MA, the state district court), not an actual appeals court that issues precedent-setting opinions.
openbox9
Premium
join:2004-01-26
Germany
kudos:2

1 recommendation

Re: Shows small claims court info; not deal with AT&T appeal

Yes, and with a new judge, new court, and new defense, the opportunity to establish a ruling in AT&T's favor increases. What other reason is there for AT&T to appeal a $850 judgement?

DataRiker
Premium
join:2002-05-19
00000

Re: Shows small claims court info; not deal with AT&T appeal

Most states do not easily grant appeals for small claims court. I believe California is one of maybe 3 (?) states that guarantees an appeal.

In fact California's defacto appeal means the new trial will likely proceed just like the last one as ATT was not required to show any error in order to get the new trial.

vpoko
Premium
join:2003-07-03
Boston, MA

Re: Shows small claims court info; not deal with AT&T appeal

I know MA gives the losing party appeal-by-right.
openbox9
Premium
join:2004-01-26
Germany
kudos:2

1 recommendation

That doesn't answer my question regarding AT&T's motivation to appeal a $850 judgement if it isn't to change the ruling and start putting a lid of other potential litigation.

vpoko
Premium
join:2003-07-03
Boston, MA

Re: Shows small claims court info; not deal with AT&T appeal

The motivation is they have a chance to save $850. They'll prevail on appeal in some cases, and lose on others, so overall they will pay less than if they just let the original judgements stand. Unless is goes up to a higher court (at that court's discretion), we're not going to see binding precedent.

Xioden
Premium
join:2008-06-10
Monticello, NY
kudos:1

Re: Shows small claims court info; not deal with AT&T appeal

They'll be pushing the binding arbitration clause in the contracts to get it thrown out of court during the appeals.

After that they just have to cite that one verdict to anyone else who tries in small claims court and they save themselves a lot of money, and get to keep the "unlimited" cash cow going strong.

vpoko
Premium
join:2003-07-03
Boston, MA

Re: Shows small claims court info; not deal with AT&T appeal

The contract specifically allows suits in small claims court.
axus

join:2001-06-18
Washington, DC
Yeah more like the lawyers making the appeal are motivated to take a break from sending cease-and-desist letters to people downloading TV shows, and get some extra money for going to court for AT&T.

DataRiker
Premium
join:2002-05-19
00000
said by openbox9:

That doesn't answer my question regarding AT&T's motivation to appeal a $850 judgement if it isn't to change the ruling and start putting a lid of other potential litigation.

Its not overly obvious? Its to make collecting money from a judgement as long and tiresome as possible.

Luckily my state doesn't grant defacto appeals so its not an issue. Small Claims court is fast and easy here as well.
openbox9
Premium
join:2004-01-26
Germany
kudos:2

Re: Shows small claims court info; not deal with AT&T appeal

It is obvious and that's kind of my point
wkm001

join:2009-12-14
Never underestimate the court of public opinion.

dabble531

@comcast.net
They need to appeal (from a business perspective - not that I support AT&T) because if they don't, they leave themselves open to the same deal (or a class action suit) from everyone that has the "unlimited" package. I.e., it's not just a nickel (or $850), but $850 * 10's if not 100's of thousands....so appealing against a possible (probable?) future cost of millions makes sense.

Rambo76098

join:2003-02-21
Columbus, OH

1 recommendation

Re: Shows small claims court info; not deal with AT&T appeal

They don't "need" to appeal, they need to stop being a shitty company.

vpoko
Premium
join:2003-07-03
Boston, MA
said by FFH5:

A better strategy - force AT&T to go to arbitration. You have a better chance there(no matter how small) than you do in winning against AT&T when they appeal a small claims court loss.

That's terrible advice and the only people who would give it are you and AT&T. His "appeal" (actually a new trial) would consist of presenting the same evidence he already presented and won once with.
tcope
Premium
join:2003-05-07
Sandy, UT
kudos:2
You do understand that this is AT&T as the defendent, right? As if AT&T has ever made anything easy.

None the less, a settlement won't really do much for anyone but putting a few hundred dollars in the plaintiff's pocket. I don't get the impression he cares too much about the money. Only a verdict and a judges ruling would send any type of message or change anything.

pende_tim
Premium
join:2004-01-04
Andover, NJ
kudos:1

Appeal?

For some reason I was under the (apparently mistaken) impression that small claims decisions were not subject to appeal.
--
The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits.

pnh102
Reptiles Are Cuddly And Pretty
Premium
join:2002-05-02
Mount Airy, MD

Re: Appeal?

said by pende_tim:

For some reason I was under the (apparently mistaken) impression that small claims decisions were not subject to appeal.

In California it is not only subject to appeal but the "appeal" is a new trial outright, albeit with lawyers this time around.

»courts.ca.gov/1072.htm

Seems kinda dumb to me, I always thought appeals courts should be in the business of deciding whether or not the lower courts followed proper process and nothing more.

My guess is that the original plaintiff in this case will try to argue that AT&T is appealing simply to encourage him to abandon the case (the section entitled "The Judge's Decision")
--
"Net Neutrality" zealots - the people you can thank for your capped Internet service.
elray

join:2000-12-16
Santa Monica, CA
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable
·EarthLink

Re: Appeal?

said by pnh102:

said by pende_tim:

For some reason I was under the (apparently mistaken) impression that small claims decisions were not subject to appeal.

In California it is not only subject to appeal but the "appeal" is a new trial outright, albeit with lawyers this time around.

Which means the "winner" will have to shell out big bucks for his new counsel, unless he's lucky enough as a cause celebre to attract an ambulance-chasing populist to take the case.

Be careful what you wish for.

fatness
subtle
Premium,ex-mod 01-13
join:2000-11-17
fishing
kudos:14

Re: Appeal?

said by elray:

said by pnh102:

said by pende_tim:

For some reason I was under the (apparently mistaken) impression that small claims decisions were not subject to appeal.

In California it is not only subject to appeal but the "appeal" is a new trial outright, albeit with lawyers this time around.

Which means the "winner" will have to shell out big bucks for his new counsel, unless he's lucky enough as a cause celebre to attract an ambulance-chasing populist to take the case.

Be careful what you wish for.

AT&T dropped their appeal and paid the judgment.
»www.theverge.com/2012/3/17/28793···0-payout

quote:
AT&T's back-and-forth with Matt Spaccarelli, the customer that took the carrier to small claims court for its throttling practices on unlimited data plans, appears to be over. AP reports that the carrier sent Spaccarelli a check for $850 — along with $85 for court fees — in compliance with the court ruling in February.
--
don’t let haters get me off my grind

DataRiker
Premium
join:2002-05-19
00000

Re: Appeal?

Why is this not on the front page news?

fatness
subtle
Premium,ex-mod 01-13
join:2000-11-17
fishing
kudos:14

Re: Appeal?

It is.
»AT&T Scraps Throttling Appeal, Pays User His $935
--
don’t let haters get me off my grind

DataRiker
Premium
join:2002-05-19
00000

Re: Appeal?

Thank you. I saw it.

KrK
Heavy Artillery For The Little Guy
Premium
join:2000-01-17
Tulsa, OK
Seems like it makes small claims court effectively useless.

That's the way these companies like it. No justice, you have to accept their terms under all circumstances (binding arbitration, etc)
and you have no legal recourse.

Meanwhile they have every recourse versus you and can do whatever they damn well please.
--
"Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power." -- Benito Mussolini

DataRiker
Premium
join:2002-05-19
00000
said by pende_tim:

For some reason I was under the (apparently mistaken) impression that small claims decisions were not subject to appeal.



California and I think 2 other states will grant an appeal for any reason.

I believe most states you must show an obvious error in order to even be considered for appeal. Even then its not usually granted.
ArizonaSteve

join:2004-01-31
Apache Junction, AZ
Must depend on the state. Here in AZ they told me there was no appeal.
BiggA

join:2005-11-23
EARTH

AT&T will win appeal

Because the customer is wrong. He signed the contract that is crystal clear, and allow AT&T to throttle the service when they believe that his use is impacting their network.

••••••
Oxygen69
Premium
join:2008-12-08
Madison, WI

Any "Resonable Man"/person argument.

Personally, I think people could get VERY far legally with AT&T by using the "Reasonable Man" argument/assumption in contract law.

-How any reasonable man or person would read their contract and would view what the company is going to do, when they use the wording "Unlimited" is how the decision would be made.

I think any reasonable person would read "unlimited" as NOT being limited in any way! By those definitions and the fact that it is small claims, the plaintiff (guy winning $850) is not bound to show or know, absolute precedent to win the case. That is why small claims courts are not Precedent setting. (legally speaking) As long as he has a "reasonable argument" anyone can win in small claims court unless the defendant can actually bring precedent to overrule certain arguments.. Even so, small claims, tends to make the legal system less intimidating for the "Layman. And side with the smaller party (manytimes).
criggs

join:2000-07-14
New York, NY
Reviews:
·Millenicom

Challenging A Company's Contract Violations

This is a fascinating case. I believe I may be on the verge of a similar situation with regard to Sprint. If interested, check out my new thread on the matter in the Sprint forum, at »Sprint's Bait and Switch on Unlimited 4G Mobile Broadband .

AVD
Respice, Adspice, Prospice
Premium
join:2003-02-06
Onion, NJ
kudos:1

Re: Challenging A Company's Contract Violations

so, the case was precident setting after all.
ArizonaSteve

join:2004-01-31
Apache Junction, AZ

Virgin Mobile & Cricket Too?

Can I use the same procedure to sue Virgin Mobile & Cricket for ripping me off too? I still have worthless USB dongles from those idiots that I can't use for anything cause their internet service is too slow to even open a website!

wings10
I Am Legend
Premium
join:2004-06-09
South Elgin, IL

AT&T ad banner LOL

I love the AT&T ad banner on the top of his web page. LOL

Chuck struck

@teksavvy.com

They learned everything from Bell Canada

I swear AT&T learned every underhanded trick from Bell Canada. The difference being in America you can sue the isp whereas in Canada things are so blatantly skewed towards the big incumbents everyone in Canada simply gave up.